Inspired by the processes and laws of the natural world that sustain all lifeforms, the writings of Thomas Berry and other environmental philosophers, lawyers and scientists, and the tradition of Catholic Social Thought to reverence and care for all of creation, the Center for Earth Jurisprudence (CEJ) was created in Fall 2006 with initial funding from a Marie V. Gendron grant at the Schools of Law at Barry and St. Thomas Universities.

CEJ formally began its educational component with an Earth Jurisprudence Seminar offered at the Barry University School of Law in Orlando in Spring 2007.  The following year the seminar was offered at St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami Gardens, as well.  More than eighty students have enrolled in courses or seminars for credit offered by CEJ since 2007.  By employing a variety of teaching methods and resources, the courses encourage students to think creatively about the responsibilities of humans toward all the members of the natural world and the need to expand legal protections for the members of the Earth community in this unprecedented era of global ecological challenges.

Since its creation, CEJ has focused on providing educational workshops and forums to shift human consciousness to understand humanity’s basic interdependence with the wider natural world; to provide a legal critique of current assumptions, values, and structures of law that are blind to this reality; and to develop alternatives building on current legal tools.  CEJ has collaborated with a variety of partner organizations to host conferences addressing aspects of re-visioning law and public policy through a more Earth-centric perspective.

An introductory Earth jurisprudence colloquium took place in April of 2007 at St. Thomas University, followed by an international workshop about the rights and responsibilities needed for adequate water law that fall.  A major symposium titled “Framing an Earth Jurisprudence for a Planet in Peril” was held at Barry University School of Law in February 2008.  The Barry Law Review published the findings of that symposium in its Winter 2008 issue.

CEJ has participated in conferences on the connections between Earth jurisprudence, global climate change, and global hunger and poverty, both nationally and internationally, especially with the Earth Jurisprudence Resource Center in London and with the Wild Law section of  the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (UKELA).

In February 2009, CEJ hosted the “Precautionary Principle Academy: Walking the Green Line” in both Miami and Orlando.  CEJ began its annual “Future Generations” conference at the Barry Law School in Spring 2010, and continued with “Water Justice for All” in February 2011, featuring noted water activist, Maude Barlow.

In July 2010 CEJ organized a major conference, “Ecological Integrity: Reconnecting Humans, Health and Habitat,” with internationally renowned environmentalist, author and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva and her sister, health activist Dr. Mira Shiva.

CEJ has also demonstrated a commitment to increasing scholarship and research in the area of Earth jurisprudence.  Professor Judy Koons of Barry University School of Law has published several law review articles on Earth Jurisprudence, as has Professor Patrick Tolan, also of the Barry Law School.  Please see the Publications page for a listing of current articles published and supported by CEJ.

CEJ relocated to the Barry University School of Law in August 2010.  An Earth jurisprudence legacy remains at St. Thomas University School of Law through the creation of a new LL.M in Environmental Sustainability that began in August 2011.  For more information on that unique environmental program, please visit www.stu.edu/law/environmentLLM.


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